Ladder League Explanation

A ladder league in pickleball is generally played as an individual, as opposed to a fixed pair. This makes for much more flexibility, so people can play even when their favorite partner is busy.

The goal of a ladder is to provide every player with competitive games. Because the advanced players move up the ladder and lesser skilled players move down, players will be placed into a group of similarly skilled players. This way everyone has more fun. You're neither getting destroyed by better players, nor getting bored playing more novice players.

How Does it work?

  • Players are assigned to courts in groups of 4-5 players.

  • Each group will play a round robin, rotating partners each game. So everyone plays WITH each other player once, and AGAINST each other player twice.

  • After the round is complete, the top 2 players move UP the ladder a step, and the bottom 2 players move DOWN a step.

We typically run two rounds, so you’d play a total of 6-8 games in about 2-2.5 hours.

How to Join

First, you need to join Pickleball Den. It’s free to join, then after a 2 week trial it’s still only $8/yr.

Next, you need to join the Gwinnett Pickleball Club on Den so you can use the signup sheets.

At this time I’m not charging anything to play in the league. I do ask for a $1 donation to cover the cost of new balls each week. You don’t have to play every week, though. We can only handle 30 players right now (5 people on each of 6 courts), but we’ve had >70 total people participate.

Sign-up sheets are posted on Thursday each week (3 days before the event). Sometimes we fill up very quickly (a few hours), so it makes sense to sign-up as soon as you can. You can always unregister if you find you can’t make it. There is a waitlist available, so if the event is full and someone drops out, then someone would be promoted from the waiting don't hesitate to join the wait list; we often have 2-3 people drop-out for various reasons.

Give me a holler if you have any other questions. Hope to see you out there soon!

Why didn't I move up? :(

Sometimes players are disappointed that they won their round, but then they find that they didn't move up a court for the next round. I want to try to explain this, because I know it's not necessarily obvious.

Let me say this first... If you know me (Brian), you know I'm an uber geek. I love analyzing data. I love using data to understand the world that I live in, which includes pickleball. So please understand that I have spent a significant amount of time looking at the Pickleball Den shootout ranking algorithm, and I assure you that it works very well. I will admit that I wish there was a way to ensure that on any given day, the top two players from the first round would move up a court, and the bottom two would move down a court. However, Den has decided not to treat two events on the same day any differently than two events on different days (which is cool by me). Unfortunately this can lead to some confusion and disappointment, though. Below you'll find an explanation of their system which I hope will help explain what's happening, even if you don't agree. :)

From your Home screen, look for the "Shootout Rankings" link shown under Gwinnett Pickleball Club (or whatever club). It'll look a little something like this.

First, notice the Step column. This lets you know what step of the ladder the player on. 1 is the top step of the ladder, but there is no bottom. There is no limit to the number of players that can be on the same step, since we don't have the same people play every week, and could thus have lots of people end their game on the same step as others who didn't play. The lowest step depends on how many courts your club plays on, and how often the lowest player has lost.

Second, notice that players on the same step are sorted by "%". This represents the percentage of possible shootout points won (not game points). If you play in Pool 1, you get 20 shootout points. If you play in Pool 2 you get 18, and so on. The bottom line is that the "%" column is higher when you play oh higher courts, so when there are players on the same step of the ladder, we sort them based on how much time they've spent on the higher courts.

Okay, but now for the confusing part. When you win, you move up a step on the ladder, but this does not mean you would move up a court for the next round. To explain why, let's look at the current rankings in the Gwinnett Pickleball Club. We have had 165 players play at some point in the last 10 months. 36 of those players are on step 2 of the ladder.

  • If all the players on a given week happened to be on Step 2, we would have to spread those players out onto the 6 courts, so 5 people would be on Step 2, but would play in Pool 6. After the first round, you would have 12 of those players move up to Step 1 because they won their pool. They would then be sorted on Step 1 by their %. You would likewise have 12 players who move down to Step 3.
    - If you won in Pool 6, you would likely move up to Pool 3 for the next round (depending on your ranking among the 12 players now on Step 1).
    - If you lost in Pool 2, you could move down to Pool 5 or 6 (depending on your ranking among the 12 players now on Step 3).
    As you can see, you may actually move up/down several courts between shootouts.

  • Let's say that you played in Pool 2 one week with 4 other players who were already on Step 2 of the ladder, but you were on Step 4. If you win your group, you would move up to Step 3 of the ladder. This means you likely would not move up to Pool 1 for the next round. And in some very rare cases, you might actually move down a Pool, because there might be someone who played in Pool 3 that won and also bumped up to Step 2, and if they had previously spent more time on the higher courts than you, they might be sorted above you, and thus you'd move down.

I hope this helped clarify the ranking process a bit. If not, I hope you'll still come out to play with us and just enjoy your time on the courts.